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  #101  
Old 16.05.2011, 15:30
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

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I just read that only 34% of residents voted on this matter. Is this a normal turnout? (just wondering.....)
I'm not about to quote official statistics, but a 30-40% turn out is fairly average for Cantonal issues in my experience. It was a fairly rare occasion that no national referendums were up for voting on at the same time, that normally pushes the percentage into the 50% zone. Just because you strive for democracy, it doesn't necessitate that people have to apply pen to paper.

There were seven issues up for grabs in ZH (six in my case as form 1 went AWOL) and the tax issue questions had sub questions which apparently confused some potential voters as I heard on Radio One - Nur für Erwachsene....
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  #102  
Old 16.05.2011, 16:40
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

I find this initiative absolutely ridiculous. I have lived in three countries, speak two languages fluently, and I am currently at the C1 level for German, my third language. To think that my parents might have voted for an initiative like this instead of trying to give me as much education and as many advantages as possible in life, makes me shudder.

It does not matter if the language is German, Swahili, or Polish. As much knowledge as possible about any language is useful, especially in an increasingly globalized world like this one!
The goal of parents should be to have their child grow up as prepared and knowledgeable as they possibly can, not to make it purposely harder for them in the future. It is a fact- the younger we learn something, the better and faster it is learned. I wouldn't have such a problem with this initiative if the majority of the Swiss spoke close to perfect High German, but they don't. They are surrounded by it everyday, read and write in it, watch movies dubbed in it, hear in on the news, and learn it in school. However, after only a year of living here, I can already pick up on the many grammatical mistakes the majority of Swiss people make when speaking High German, and it shocks me. Obviously, something is not working. The response however is to make it even harder for their children to learn it, instead of easier. Don't even bother doing it if you're going to do it so sloppily and half-assed! Why bother learning Hochdeutsch at all?

In my opinion, speaking not as a parent but as a daughter, you are happily and willingly giving your children a huge disadvantage for the future. This decision reflects a very selfish world-view, with no foresight. They should grow up aware of their culture, not handicapped by it.

Will someone give me a coherent argument as to the advantages these children will have by NOT learning high german earlier? Just some kind of proof that there are more pros to not learning it earlier than cons.
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  #103  
Old 16.05.2011, 16:52
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

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In my opinion, speaking not as a parent but as a daughter, you are happily and willingly giving your children a huge disadvantage for the future. This decision reflects a very selfish world-view, with no foresight. They should grow up aware of their culture, not handicapped by it.
Given your emphasis on "globalisation" I would have thought this statement be a bit over the top for you. I can't see how it's a huge disadvantage not to start high German at a young age, the huge disadvantage would come if kids aren't started off with English at a young age to help them with "globalisation" seeing as English seems to be the most widely used language in the business world.

Whether they learn Swiss German or High German at those tender years isn't such a whack when you consider the wider world.

HAVING SAID THAT - I think Swiss German should be kept alive and well in schools right from the beginning purely for traditional and cultural reasons. It would be a huge loss of historical proportions if this dialect was allowed to flounder.
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  #104  
Old 16.05.2011, 17:09
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

Well, considering here in Switzerland the written and ''professional'' language is high german, then yes, it would be a huge disadvantage if the kids are not comfortable and extremely proficient with it. The problem is, like I said in my previous post, the majority is already not so great at it, so why not address that then? Unless Switzerland wants to eliminate high german completely from their culture (at which point there would have to be some sort of standardization of Swiss German), I don't see why they wouldn't teach their children this language as early as possible, since it is apparently here to stay- I really don't get it.

I do not believe the dialect would flounder- when the Soviet Empire forced the Russian language in Eastern Europe, none of those countries ever forgot how to speak their own. My grandmother grew up having to speak Russian in school, but not one of her classmates/teachers/relatives/neighbors ever forgot how to speak their country's ''true'' language...


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Given your emphasis on "globalisation" I would have thought this statement be a bit over the top for you. I can't see how it's a huge disadvantage not to start high German at a young age, the huge disadvantage would come if kids aren't started off with English at a young age to help them with "globalisation" seeing as English seems to be the most widely used language in the business world.

Whether they learn Swiss German or High German at those tender years isn't such a whack when you consider the wider world.

HAVING SAID THAT - I think Swiss German should be kept alive and well in schools right from the beginning purely for traditional and cultural reasons. It would be a huge loss of historical proportions if this dialect was allowed to flounder.
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  #105  
Old 16.05.2011, 17:22
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

One of the reasons proponents touted to justify this initiative was that of integration--that foreigners would better integrate into the community if dialect were the prime (only) language in kindergarten.

I share Pants-Face's sentiment that it seems a slap to those who know an official language (or two, or three) that those skills are not good enough to be consider integrated.

It is not about integration at all. It is about fear. There is a fear "Swissness" will be lost in the shuffle, as the 25% of the population which is foreign starts to permeate the mountain refuge. I think fear is the catalyst to much legislation in this country nowadays.
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Old 16.05.2011, 17:22
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

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The problem is, like I said in my previous post, the majority is already not so great at it, so why not address that then?
I assume you have some kind of statistic or at least fact based info that shows this?

Yes, for some Swiss I have met, they find high German a struggle but most people I know have to use high German or Swiss German on a daily basis and it isn't an issue.

I deal with people from the UK and the US who are native English speakers whose English is absolutely appalling - no grasp of grammar or spelling. I don't think the Swiss have got anything to fear about not mastering high German, plus they speak English better than some of the English speaking company directors I deal with.

I don't think that a 5 year old learning Swiss German at kindergarten is going to make one iota of difference to his future global marketability. If he puts a wrong ending on an adjective now and again, it won't stop him running a bank or operating on a patient now, will it?

My previous post was pointing out that you were using the word "globalisation" but really confining your issue to Switzerland - somehow it didn't really add up.
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Old 16.05.2011, 17:26
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

I'm not sure if it has been posted already.. Those who wanted the dialect in Kindergarten speak of swiss german as being the "Identifikationssprache"(link is in german) because the use of dialect is, as they say (!), more widespread than in Germany (used in more formal situations or when different dialects meet they don't change to standard german etc.). They say being able to speak dialect is an important part of integration for kids with other mothertongues and "if the schools want to promote language competence and provide children with the basics to learn other languages, it is important to start with the language which is actually being spoken around them."

I do understand these arguments but what I don't get is this "fear" of or distance to standard german, which some people seem to show in many discussions. Standard or High German is an important part of our language environment/part of our culture, quite useful if one wants to read or write anything really (besides sms).

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  #108  
Old 16.05.2011, 17:32
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

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Given your emphasis on "globalisation" I would have thought this statement be a bit over the top for you. I can't see how it's a huge disadvantage not to start high German at a young age, the huge disadvantage would come if kids aren't started off with English at a young age to help them with "globalisation" seeing as English seems to be the most widely used language in the business world.
That's the part of the business world you see...
1. The by far strongest trade partner of Switzerland is Germany. Being able to speak high German is more important than English in Switzerland. Many of my Swiss colleagues are frankly pretty rubbish at it, especially when it comes to writing it. I understand them as I have lived here long enough but many terms they constantly use raise more than an eyebrow at our customers...

2. Even in the multinationals from Pharma to banking: Yes, English is the official language and you need it. But most international companies throw Switzerland into one market unit with Germany and Austria. So if you want a job in market communication or anything customer facing, you are competing with Germans for a high German speaking job.

Ever wondered why there are so many Germans coming to Zurich? I can tell you that I have never had an advantage by being German, quite the opposite: I am sure that if there are two similarly good applicants, the local Swiss would get the job. Truth is that I have seen some truly terrible application letters and cvs, so even there is the lack of language skills an issue. I am not saying that Kindergarten can fix this - but the topic is the same: Swiss people do not like Standard German.

Standard German is btw a cultural achievement and not some form of German cultural invasion. The Swiss introduced in in 1892 - years before it was a law in Germany.

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  #109  
Old 16.05.2011, 17:59
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

Baffling on a rational level that a country's official language has been rejected and has been replaced with an 'unofficial' dialect of that language, but understandable on an emotive / political level, and there's the rub. I look forward to future Kantonal political campaigns being written in Zürituutsch, as befits the comprehension skills of the core audience ha ha ha!

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  #110  
Old 16.05.2011, 18:05
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

It does not matter if the language is German, Swahili, or Polish. As much knowledge as possible about any language is useful, especially in an increasingly globalized world like this one!


I don't really understand what you're trying to say, in all honesty. Any additional language is an advantage, in any country, in a globalized world; I did not think the above sentence referred just to Switzerland, or confined any issues to it;

I have been learning high german for a year now in Switzerland, so I can just tell you from a lot of personal experience that I can already hear grammatical mistakes when the Swiss speak, and I can see written mistakes in Swiss NEWSPAPERS- which we would show our German teachers in the school and they would laugh at...
I really don't want to insult anyone or make too big of a generalization, but in all honesty I have been pretty shocked by most of the high german spoken here.


And so...why do you find the grammar and spelling of some native english speakers to be 'appaling'? According to you, it won't stop them from operating on a patient...





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I assume you have some kind of statistic or at least fact based info that shows this?

Yes, for some Swiss I have met, they find high German a struggle but most people I know have to use high German or Swiss German on a daily basis and it isn't an issue.

I deal with people from the UK and the US who are native English speakers whose English is absolutely appalling - no grasp of grammar or spelling. I don't think the Swiss have got anything to fear about not mastering high German, plus they speak English better than some of the English speaking company directors I deal with.


I don't think that a 5 year old learning Swiss German at kindergarten is going to make one iota of difference to his future global marketability. If he puts a wrong ending on an adjective now and again, it won't stop him running a bank or operating on a patient now, will it?


My previous post was pointing out that you were using the word "globalisation" but really confining your issue to Switzerland - somehow it didn't really add up.
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  #111  
Old 16.05.2011, 18:12
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

Nobody needs to start English at early age to have a full command of what we call business English or Globish. There are many good reasons for learning English early if one wishes to, however, just not that one.

The important thing for anybody in the world of education is to have a real mother tongue or two, but real ones. Biligualism is not making it impossible, it just changes the way to achieve it. Any language will do, but at real mother tongue level. That means any dialect, sociolect, regional flavour you want PLUS a full command of the written, litterary and intellectual language. On top of that, one can add as much as one wants, but it comes on top of the said prerequisit. I teach quite a few students with no real mother tongue, I recognize the consequence of it, even if nobody believes me when I plead for a more serious approach to the mother tongue concept in education in general and in Gymnasium with a mixed origine population in particular.
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  #112  
Old 16.05.2011, 18:39
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

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That's the part of the business world you see...
1. The by far strongest trade partner of Switzerland is Germany. Being able to speak high German is more important than English in Switzerland. Many of my Swiss colleagues are frankly pretty rubbish at it, especially when it comes to writing it. I understand them as I have lived here long enough. Many terms they constantly use raise more than an eyebrow at our customers...

2. Even in the multinationals from Pharma to banking: Yes, English is the official language and you need it. But most international companies throw Switzerland into one market unit with Germany and Austria. So if you want a job in market communication or anything customer facing, you are competing with Germans for a high German speaking job.

Ever wondered why there are so many Germans coming to Zurich? I can tell you that I have never had an advantage by being German, quite the opposite: I am sure that if there are two similarly good applicants, the local Swiss would get the job. Truth is that I have seen some truly terrible application letters and cvs, so even there is the lack of language skills an issue. I am not saying that Kindergarten can fix this - but the topic is the same: Swiss people do not like Standard German.

Standard German is btw a cultural achievement and not some form of German cultural invasion. The Swiss introduced in in 1892 - years before it was a law in Germany.
I seriously doubt there's such huge difference in language skills between the Germans and the Swiss. If you spend some time in Germany you get to realize pretty quickly that also a lot of Germans aren't that great at speaking their own language. A fact which is also reflected in the Pisa studies where Germany has consistantly ranked below Switzerland in terms of reading skills. The use of certain terms susceptible to raise your eyebrows might just be "Helvetismen", which are perfectly acceptible. At least I and most people I know speak and write proper German even if this doesn't square with your impression.
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  #113  
Old 16.05.2011, 18:47
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

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I seriously doubt there's such huge difference in language skills between the Germans and the Swiss. If you spend some time in Germany you get to realize pretty quickly that also a lot of Germans aren't that great at speaking their own language. A fact which is also reflected in the Pisa studies where Germany has consistantly ranked below Switzerland in terms of reading skills. The use of certain terms susceptible to raise your eyebrows might just be "Helvetismen", which are perfectly acceptible. At least I and most people I know speak and write proper German even if this doesn't square with your impression.

I personally don't care that there's a lot of english speakers and german speakers who speak and write abysmally in their mother-tongue; I want to speak a language properly and the fact that others are bad at their own language shouldn't give anybody an excuse to also be ''bad'' in it.
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Old 16.05.2011, 18:48
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

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That's the part of the business world you see...
1. The by far strongest trade partner of Switzerland is Germany. Being able to speak high German is more important than English in Switzerland. Many of my Swiss colleagues are frankly pretty rubbish at it, especially when it comes to writing it. I understand them as I have lived here long enough but many terms they constantly use raise more than an eyebrow at our customers...
True, but is that just the Swiss. I have been involved in businiess conversations with Germans from different corners of Germany and they barely understood one another's German. In places in the countryside of Bavaria or Saxony, Hochdeutsch is a language that most can write but few can (or want to) speak - and those that do speak it are more likely than not to be arrogant snobs.

Oh, and by the way, economically speaking Bavaria is one of the most succesful parts of Geramny. So much for the value of a lingua franca.
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Old 16.05.2011, 18:52
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

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I personally don't care that there's a lot of english speakers and german speakers who speak and write abysmally in their mother-tongue; I want to speak a language properly and the fact that others are bad at their own language shouldn't give anybody an excuse to also be ''bad'' in it.
A language is ultimately defined, not by what the grammar books and the ivory tower professors that write them think, but by the majority consensus.

If everybody makes the same mistake, that usage becomes de-facto right and is hence no longer a mistake. Languages are not set in stone but are continually developing.
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Old 16.05.2011, 18:54
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

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True, but is that just the Swiss. I have been involved in businiess conversations with Germans from different corners of Germany and they barely understood one another's German. In places in the countryside of Bavaria or Saxony, Hochdeutsch is a language that most can write but few can (or want to) speak - and those that do speak it are more likely than not to be arrogant snobs.
Sure. The difference is that Zürchers are arrogant snobs without the skill...

Seriously: I have a meeting tomorrow with some customers from the deepest parts of Franken (For the foreigners: That's the northern part of Bavaria, but never ever call them Bavarians...). If he'd really speak his dialect, I would not understand a word. I said from the beginning that we have dialects in Germany as well, but we do not make votes to keep our kids from learning the usefull stuff. The Swiss cultural identity is not at risk if kids learn how to communicate with neighbour countries.


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Oh, and by the way, economically speaking Bavaria is one of the most succesful parts of Geramny. So much for the value of a lingua franca.
Your point is? There is no place that speaks Standard German... (edit: except of the Sendebetriebszentrum of the ZDF probably)
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Old 16.05.2011, 19:02
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

And yet, if you think about the same from the English point of view, it is rare to hear 'successful' business or professional people use 'I were stood standing there' or 'we was proper frit', etc. Most people who were brought up using Geordie or Scouse, etc, have had to adapt their accent and grammar to climb the ladder (some lost their original accent/language sadly in the process- others have become sort of bi-lingual, eg know when to use they local language and when it is not 'suitable'.

We used to have a similar conversation with our Bengali teacher at my school. She had great problems with the kids and their parents (most of whom were illiterate) because they thought their language was adequate, but in fact they spoke Silhetti, which is a dialect and quite different from standard Bengali.
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Old 16.05.2011, 19:06
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

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And yet, if you think about the same from the English point of view, it is rare to hear 'successful' business or professional people use 'I were stood standing there' or 'we was proper frit', etc. Most people who were brought up using Geordie or Scouse, etc, have had to adapt their accent and grammar to climb the ladder (some lost their original accent/language sadly in the process- others have become sort of bi-lingual, eg know when to use they local language and when it is not 'suitable'.
That is because in the UK there is an overlay between dialects and class, and that when people want to break out of their social class they must also adapt their language accordingly. In Switzerland language doesn't really correlate to class in the same way.You get all sorts of politicians and managers and other succesful types speaking their own dialects on TV and nobody minds.
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Old 16.05.2011, 19:12
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

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More important would be if these Lokal-Radio-Stations would stop translating Standard-German texts back into dialect from their papers and simply read them down in Standard-German ! And if Swiss TV would change back the Meteo report from dialect to Standard German.
In Holland, Dutch TV almost always subtitle people on the news, documentaries etc, even if their dialect is ever so slight.

Over here, the media automatically expect people to understand a broad range of dialects and High German.
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Old 16.05.2011, 19:12
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Re: Keeping Swiss German in Kanton Zürich Kindergartens

Yes... and no, I'm not sure. Just like in the UK, dialect/local speech was not acceptable on TV and for official business until not long ago. Think about BBC TV and 'Oxford' English (which makes me laugh always, as Oxford English is not at all ... like Oxford English, if you see what I mean). Same here in CH to some extent- there is now a back lash, and dialect is becoming more acceptable/ed again. it was made very clear here in CH in the 50s and 60s that anybody with 'aspirations' had to learn to speak and write High German to get there.
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